How We Test VPNs: Methodology
We put every VPN we recommend through a battery of tests to see how they rank in terms of speed, kill switches, split tunneling, encryption, bandwidth, and privacy. Of course, for a list of the best Singapore VPNs, we were most interested in the number of servers each provider offered in Singapore itself. Only after we’ve considered all of these factors do we feel confident in saying that these are the best VPNs for Singapore.
We tested all of the VPN providers on a private Optimum network in our Brooklyn office. We put our Macbook Air and Windows Vivobook or Acer Aspire 5 through speed tests without a VPN to get a baseline number, then compared that number to speed with a VPN. We tested download and upload speeds along with ping (latency). Ultimately, we calculated the difference between the two numbers as a percentage. That way, we can say with certainty how much a VPN will affect any given machine.
If a VPN has a no more than a 40 percent difference in a category, we’re confident in recommending it. But while we’re secure in our findings, there’s so many factors that can impact speed test results (device used, operating system, distance to the server), so we always remind our readers to conduct speed tests of their own, just to make sure.
VPNs are designed to protect web traffic and browsing data, to conceal our device’s IP address and what websites we visited. They can only do that if they are free from leaks. We use ExpressVPN’s website to test for WebRTC leaks. In addition, we use a program at DNSLeakTest.com to check for any DNS leaks. Another factor we take under consideration is what privacy jurisdiction a VPN provider falls under (if any). While we prefer companies that are located in areas that don’t fall under Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes jurisdiction, a strict logging policy can sometimes compensate for a vulnerable location. In the end, we always let our readers know the location of the VPN provider we’re reviewing so they can decide how important a company’s location is.
Most VPN providers hold some degree of personal data (email addresses, payment information or usernames), so we do our best to find the companies that don’t hold overly-sensitive information. We don’t tolerate VPN providers that hold information about how long we used the VPNs, when we accessed it, our web activity, or our device’s IP address. Finally, we review the VPN’s internet protocols and encryption methods to see how they compare to industry standards. The most common (and secure) forms of encryption protection are AES-256 and OpenVPN. We try to recommend VPNs that all include a kill switch and dynamic IP addresses, which are tough to track.
Considering how media libraries vary across the globe and how some countries have a lot less content than others, VPNs for streaming and VPNs for torrenting are important. VPNs mask our device’s IP address to appear as if we’re accessing the media library from another country, enabling us to access more TV and movie titles. We also prefer VPNs with split tunneling, which allows access to private and public networks simultaneously, in addition to double or multi-hop VPNs, which encrypt data multiple times through many servers to add layers of protection.
We also try to supply thorough information for our readers about pricing. VPN providers have a wide price range, but typically they fall between $5 and $10 per month, with some going upwards of $20 per month. Monthly plans are nice because they offer flexibility and short commitments.
However, what two or three-year plans lack in leniency they often make up for with price, as most annual plans offer bigger discounts as potential users upgrade their term lengths. Finally, we know how important trial periods and money-back guarantees are, along with contract lengths, so we make that information as clear as possible to our readers by supplying them with information about server switches, simultaneous connections, and how many devices are allowed overall to ensure that they get the most bang for their buck.
VPN companies are known for their privacy and security features, not customer service, and it shows. Most VPN companies offer some combination of email addresses, 24/7 live chats, and online ticket submissions. However, some providers offer phone support, which makes them stand out in our book.
We test each VPN provider’s app on both Android and iOS devices, and we also research their ratings on each operating system’s app store. We don’t recommend any apps that are rated below three stars.
To learn more about how we test VPNs, read our VPN guide. Or, to explore other options, find the right VPN for your needs.